‘Frosty’ comes in from the cold down under…
Australian V8 Supercar king Jamie Whincup’s reign officially came to an end at Sydney’s Homebush street circuit on Saturday. The six-time champ, who’s topped the table for the past four years, had already fallen out of the title-race running for 2015, but wanted to end a weak season – by his standards – with more race victories. He duly delivered in the first encounter of the series’ three-race finale aboard his Triple 8 Holden Commodore, with the man on the verge of succeeding him, Mark Winterbottom, bringing his Prodrive Racing Australia Ford Falcon home in fifth – tantalisingly close to a maiden title.
It meant Saturday’s second race would give Winterbottom, affectionately known in V8 Supercar circles as ‘Frosty’, another chance to seal the deal ahead of Sunday’s third-parter. Whincup secured another win, while Winterbottom finished on the bottom step of the podium to finally wrap up the title. His podium finish guaranteed he joined Glenn Seton, John Bowe, Marcos Ambrose, Russell Ingall, Whincup and James Courtney as a Ford champion.
The 34-year-old added to his points tally with 4th place in the 36th and last race of the year, won by Shane van Gisbergen, who joins Whincup and Craig Lowndes at Triple 8 next year.
Whincup’s been the dominant force in V8 Supercars for so long that it’s actually quite refreshing to see someone else wear the crown. And with nine wins and eight other podium finishes in the Pepsi Max-branded Falcon FG, ‘Frosty’ is a more than deserving successor.
… While ‘Flash’ shines on night of stars.
Not content to win the prestigious RAC Tourist Trophy Celebration race on his debut alongside Chris Ward in JD Classics’ Jaguar E-type at September’s 18th Revival Meeting, and then snare his second British Touring Car Championship title in the Team Dynamics Honda Civic at Brands Hatch in October, Gordon Shedden walked off with a top gong during Sunday’s 34th annual Autosport Awards at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel.
The 36-year-old Scot was voted National Driver of the Year, beating team-mate Matt Neal, arch rival Jason Plato, who finished runner-up in the BTCC, British GT champion Jonny Adam, runner-up Alexander Sims and European Formula 3 race winner Jake Dennis to the plaudits, which are voted for by readers of the world-famous motorsport magazine.
‘The one thing the BTCC always delivers is excitement,’ Shedden said to host Steve Rider on stage at the black-tie event.
‘To take the title fight to the last race was incredible. The emotions had been up and down, but to come through in the last race was fantastic.’
Before he can start his 2016 BTCC title campaign, however, ‘Flash’ will be returning to Goodwood to race in the 74th Members’ Meeting on March 19-20. He’ll be reunited with JD Classics, sharing its Ford GT40 with historic ace Ward in the Alan Mann Trophy and pedalling its Patrick Motorsport-liveried Rover Vitesse, again with Ward, in the Gerry Marshall Trophy.
That should shake off the winter cobwebs nicely and prepare him for the rough and tumble of life at the sharp end of the BTCC.
Photography courtesy of LAT and Jochen Van Cauwenberge